Child Trafficking Racket: Accused Applies for Discharge

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Date: Tuesday, April 10

A 37-year-old businessman, who was arrested in connection with a human trafficking case where at least 17 minors were sent to European countries, has on Monday filed for discharge in the case. The main accused Hemang Modi has also recently filed a bail application.

As per the prosecution’s case, Modi, his wife Harsha and their four accomplices allegedly submitted fabricated documents with Mumbai’s Regional Passport Office and obtained passports in the name of Sarang Modi, Mahi Modi, Hetal Modi and Sandesh Modi. With the help of these passports and that of Harsha’s, eight boys and nine girls – all minors – along with four women travelled abroad on different dates between 2013 and 2017. The prosecution has alleged that five different women have travelled abroad on Harsha’s passport and four of them did not return to India.

Prashant Gowda alias Prasanna, a resident of Mira Road has now approached the Dindoshi sessions court to file for discharge in the case. The application filed through advocate S Rajput states that “there is absolutely no evidence” to connect Gowda to the alleged offence committed by Modi and his wife Harsha.

The prosecution has collected call detail records showing the conversations between Modi and other co-accused Milind Modale along with conversations between Gowda and Modale. However, the application states “merely on the basis of CDR, it is not sufficient to frame charges against Gowda.”

The prosecution will submit its reply on the discharge application during the next hearing.

In his bail application, Modi has claimed that in the light of the allegations, “there is not even a single complaint with any police station by the parents of those girls and boys or any of the relatives of the four women.” The application also states that in the absence of such complaints, Indian Penal Code section 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) is not attracted in the present case.

Modi was arrested in October last year after the police unearthed the alleged racket. During investigation, police said the ‘trafficked’ children may have been sent to countries like France, Switzerland, Britain, Germany among other European countries.

Hemang Modi is a Borivli-based LIC agent. Modi’s mother is a retired clerk from the CBI. Modi was arrested along with other accused including Milind Modale and Prashant Gowda. Modi’s wife is also booked in the case. At least 17 minors were allegedly trafficked between 2013 and 2017, as per the prosecution.

The prosecution has alleged the accused submitted forged documents and false information and obtained passports in the name of Sarang Modi, Mahi Modi, Hetal Modi and Sandesh Modi.

As per database of system of immigration, it is seen that Modi travelling from Mumbai to Paris on May 27, 2013. He also travelled from Paris to Mumbai on June 3, 2017. On different dates, he allegedly transported seven minor boys through different airports.

The prosecution claims the accused travelled abroad with the minors on nine different dates between 2013 and 2017 – May 27, 2013, June 7, 2014, February 12, 2015, July 30, 2015, October 14, 2015, July 7, 2016, December 28, 2016, May , 2017.

Read the Hindustan Times (Source) article here.

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